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5 Reasons to Consider a Cat-Only Veterinary Clinic

Going to the vet is stressful enough for cats. Here are some ways a feline-only practice can make the visit easier for both you and your cat.

 |  Sep 19th 2013  |   10 Contributions


I’ve always been interested in the idea of cat-only vet hospitals, but they're very rare back in Maine. It wasn't until I moved to a large city last year that I had my first opportunity to try one. I called that clinic when my cat, Dahlia, became sick, and made an appointment for an exam the next day. When Dahlia’s condition degraded to the point that I took her to the emergency clinic, I called the cat hospital back to cancel my appointment, only to find out that they hadn’t even remembered to enter it in their system. I was Not. Impressed.

But now that I’m in Seattle, there are lots of options. My best friend and cat sitter extraordinaire, Adrianna, takes her cats to a clinic she absolutely loves, and recently she invited me to come to the vet with her and her cat, Abby. The clinic was busy but pretty quiet, and mercifully free of the constant refrain of barking dogs I’ve experienced at most clinics. We went into the exam room, and after only a short wait the veterinarian came in. She sat down on the floor with Abby and did almost the whole exam there, talking quietly to her the whole time. Abby didn’t seem the least bit stressed by the experience, and the vet was happy to introduce herself to me and briefly discuss my cats during the appointment as well.

“I’m totally taking my cats here!” I told Adrianna as she put Abby’s carrier in the back of her car. “This place is awesome!”

My cat, Bella, probably wouldn't care if the clinic I chose were cats-only or not; she's not afraid of ANYTHING, as is obvious from this photo of her first meeting with my veterinarian.

Catster vet Dr. Eric Barchas recently wrote about the plight of cats as second-class citizens when it comes to veterinary care. In addition to the reasons he cited, one of the primary reasons why cats don’t go to the vet as often as dogs is that it’s so stressful for both cat and caretaker. A cats-only clinic can be a huge anxiety reducer, and here’s why.

1. The environment is designed to be cat-friendly

Noise levels are typically low, extra air circulation minimizes exposure to other cats’ stress pheromones -- and litter box odors! Exam rooms are designed so that while cats can be comfortable, there are no bizarre and inaccessible places for them to squeeze into.

2. The staff has actively chosen to work with cats

Everyone from the chief veterinarian to the kennel assistants is a cat lover. Vets, technicians and assistants have special training in safely handling cats.

3. Veterinarians keep up with the latest in cat care

As Dr. Barchas said in his column, cats are generally an afterthought in veterinary training. But cat-only vets get extra training in the care and treatment of our feline friends. They undertake continuing education courses on issues in cat health and understand more about feline nutrition, feline vaccination guidelines and other special considerations in cat care.

4. Your cat will find the experience less stressful

Whether your cat-only vet gets on the floor to examine your cat, as Adrianna’s vet did, or just understands how cats communicate and how to make them feel relaxed in an exam room setting, your cat is much more likely to tolerate -- and even enjoy -- a visit to a cat-loving vet.

5. Your cat-only clinic might have a great kitty toy shop

Some cat-only clinics sell window perches, toys, collars, treats, and even special food. I’m not just talking about that prescription stuff here: The vet hospital I went to with Adrianna had a fantastic selection of high-quality canned and raw foods, as well as healthy treats with no artificial flavors, colors or chemicals. While I was there, I bought a window perch for Thomas ... which reminds me, I really ought to install that thing!

Cat and veterinarian by Shutterstock

Thomas and I have a senior wellness-exam appointment with Adrianna’s cat-only vet next week, and I’ll definitely tell you how that turned out.

Do you go to a cat-only veterinary clinic? How has it worked out for you and your kitty friend? Please share your stories in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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